After experiencing a severe asthma attack, you may feel both physical and emotional effects. Here are some actions you can take to recover.

During an asthma attack or exacerbation (flare), your airways narrow. This makes it harder to breathe and get enough oxygen to your lungs. You may also have symptoms like chest pain, coughing, and wheezing. Your air passages can become so inflamed that you need urgent care at a hospital.

An asthma attack can be a frightening experience. It can take days or even weeks to fully recover.

If you’ve ever had an attack, the thought of having another one can be scary. Taking some time for yourself after an asthma attack can help you recover — and possibly lower your risk of having another one.

Once you’ve gotten past the emergency stage, you can start thinking about getting well again. The most important thing is to take your asthma medication exactly as your doctor prescribed to prevent another attack.

If severe asthma attacks are becoming a pattern for you, consider meeting with your doctor to re-evaluate your treatment plan. You might need to increase the dosage of your current medication or add a new one to prevent future flare-ups.

Once you’ve adjusted your treatment plan, do your best to stick with it. Let your doctor know if you experience any new or worsening symptoms.

A severe asthma attack can be serious. Afterward, you need time to rest and recuperate.

Stay home and relax for a few days. Don’t go back to work until you feel up to it — and your doctor says you’re ready.

Put chores and other responsibilities on the back burner. Ask friends and family to help out with shopping, cooking, and cleaning until you feel ready to get back into your routine.

Asthma is a sleep disruptor, and an asthma attack can mess up your sleep cycle. It’s hard to get any rest when you’re wheezing and coughing.

Using your inhaler can help prevent symptoms, but asthma medications might also keep you awake. If your asthma medication is affecting your sleep, ask your doctor whether you can take it earlier in the day.

Allergy triggers in your bedroom can also set off symptoms. Wash your bedding in hot water and vacuum often to get rid of dust mites. Keep pets out of your bedroom or make them sleep in their own bed.

Along with taking the medications your doctor has prescribed, doing certain breathing exercises can help you breathe easier and feel better. A few techniques to try include:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing: In this technique, you breathe from your diaphragm instead of from your chest. When you’re doing it correctly, your stomach should move out when you breathe, but not your chest. This will help slow your breathing and reduce your body’s need for oxygen.
  • Nasal breathing: Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth adds warmth and humidity to the air, which can reduce asthma symptoms.
  • Pursed lip breathing: This technique helps relieve shortness of breath. You breathe in slowly through your nose with your mouth open and then breathe out through pursed lips as if you were about to whistle.
  • Buteyko breathing: This technique uses a series of exercises to teach you how to breathe more slowly and deeply.

Ask your doctor which breathing exercises are right for you and how to perform them correctly.

No particular diet can prevent asthma symptoms, but eating nutrient-rich foods may help you feel better overall. If you are overweight, a healthcare professional can advise whether losing weight would give your lungs more room to expand.

You may consider increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish like salmon and tuna as well as in nuts and seeds. Some research from 2016 suggests that these foods might help reduce asthma symptoms.

If you have sensitivities or allergies to particular foods, try to avoid them. Allergic reactions to food can trigger asthma symptoms.

Exercise is a good way to strengthen your lungs and manage your asthma symptoms. Plus, the slow, paced breathing you use when you practice yoga may help improve your asthma symptoms.

Having a severe asthma attack can be very upsetting. Even if your lungs recover quickly, your emotional state might remain unsettled. If you’re feeling sad or anxious, you can try talking with a psychologist or therapist. Or you might join a support group for people living with severe asthma.

An asthma attack may be as brief as a few minutes or may last for hours or even days, depending on the cause and severity of the attack. Severe asthma is a long-term condition, and having a treatment plan can help you keep your flare-ups in check.